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Midnight Politico

a_picazo's picture
Alheli Picazo is a retired elite athlete who's still passionate about health, fitness and human kinetics. After the conclusion of her athletic career, Picazo became keenly interested in politics and is now actively involved in promoting and contributing to the progressive cause. Picazo's goal is to engage in a meaningful political debate and combat apathy by shedding light on the information and stories that traditional media sources don't always provide.

Ezra Levant vs. reality -- a prelude to Fox News North

| September 7, 2010
Ezra Levant vs. reality -- a prelude to Fox News North

The battle between supporters and opponents of Sun TV News -- the Fox News style channel headed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper's former communications director Kory Teneycke -- reached new heights when members of the ‘Fox News North' team took issue with a growing online petition urging the CRTC to reject Quebecor's (QMI) request to "make it mandatory for cable and satellite networks to provide access to the channel ‘for a maximum period of three years to effectively expose and promote its programming to viewers across Canada'."

In an article entitled Anti-Sun TV News campaign in U.S., Sun Media (QMI)'s Brian Lilley alleges the petition is the work of "a group of left-wing Americans supporting interests in Canada that don't want to see competition in news broadcasting ... backed by MoveOn.org a lobby group that has taken millions of dollars from currency speculator George Soros."

What followed is known as the "saga of the Great Sun TV Petition," in which Teneycke, fellow Sun Media (QMI) personality Ezra Levant, and Conservative blogger/activist and founder of the BloggingTories.ca Stephen Taylor, took to twitter to express their ‘outrage,' as ‘someone' spammed the petition with the names of journalists, actors, and fictional characters, and simultaneously penned an editorial about "why Canada needs Sun TV News."

In their co-ordinated effort, Teneycke, Levant and Taylor not only attacked Avaaz.org -- a global online advocacy community whose co-founder and Executive Director, Ricken Patel, happens to be Canadian -- as a foreign operation, but specifically, and repeatedly, refer to George Soros -- a progressive philanthropist who is despised by Right Wing America.

By connecting Soros to the Avaaz petition, Lilley, Levant, Taylor, and Tenycke aim to stoke fear in their followers who, more often than not, are avid consumers of extreme Right Wing media such as Fox News, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Ann Coulter, Andrew Breitbart (BigGovernment.com), Pamela Gellar (AtlasShrugs.com), WorldNetDaily.com, and Judi McLeod (Canadafreepress.com).

Soros can be found at the centre of nearly every conspiracy concocted by the aforementioned, widely discredited media sources, who've alleged:

"Soros is a Nazi Collaborator"
"Move over, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot. There's a new kid on the block: Soros"
"Obama-Soros Blueprint For US Surrender To Islam"
"Soros' New World Order"
"Soros is Obama's Secret Boss"
"The Oil Spill Was An Obama-Soros Act Of War Against The United States"
"Soros Is The Anti-Christ"
"Soros is The Biggest Enemy Of Freedom"
"Soros And Obama: Crime Inc."

As if on cue, Levant -- who spent the summer of 1994 in Washington, D.C., in an internship arranged by the right-wing Charles G. Koch Foundation Summer Fellow Program -- used his Sunday Sun column to import the ‘Soros is scary' propaganda from his conspiracy theorist counterparts in the U.S.

In his piece Moral hollowness at work, Levant claims Soros, a Hungarian Jew born in 1930, survived the holocaust by ‘collaborating with the Nazis.'

"First he worked for the Judenrat," writes Levant. "That was the Jewish council set up by the Nazis to do their dirty work for them. Instead of the Nazis rounding up Jews every day for the trains, they delegated that murderous task to Jews who were willing to do it to survive another day at the expense of their neighbours."

This oft repeated ‘nazi collaborator' smear is taken from the pages of The Shadow Party: How George Soros, Hillary Clinton, and Sixties Radicals Seized Control of the Democratic Party, a thoroughly discredited book written by right-wing pundits David Horowitz and Richard Poe.

Levant's fictitious claim that Soros "collaborated with the nazis" and "worked for the Judenrat," is based wholly on unsourced allegations, originating in The Shadow Party, and echoed by right-wing pundits.

Moving on, Levant writes:

"(Soros' father) hatched a better plan for his son. He bribed a non-Jewish official at the agriculture ministry to let (Soros) live with him. (Soros) helped the official confiscate property from Jews.

By collaborating with the Nazis, (Soros) survived the Holocaust. He turned on other Jews to spare himself.

How does Soros feel about what he did as a teenager? Has it kept him up at night?

Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes asked him that. Was it difficult? ‘Not at all,' Soros answered.

‘No feeling of guilt?' asked Kroft. ‘No,' said Soros. ‘There was no sense that I shouldn't be there. If I wasn't doing it, somebody else would be taking it away anyhow. Whether I was there or not. So I had no sense of guilt.'

A Nazi would steal the Jews' property anyways. So why not him?"

The assertion that Soros confiscated property of other Jews -- including the imaginary interview Levant creates by cropping and rearranging portions of the actual 60 Minutes Soros interview -- was debunked years ago, when the 60 Minutes interview was first selectively edited by conservative columnist Martin Peretz.

As evidenced by the unedited portion of the interview, the conversation between Kroft and Soros bears little semblance to the version scribed by Levant:

Kroft: You're a Hungarian Jew ...

Soros:Mm-hmm.

Kroft: ... who escaped the Holocaust ...

Soros: Mm-hmm.

Kroft: ... by posing as a Christian.

Soros: Right.

Kroft: And you watched lots of people get shipped off to the death camps.

Soros: Right. I was 14 years old. And I would say that that's when my character was made.

Kroft: In what way?

Soros: That one should think ahead. One should understand that -- and anticipate events and when, when one is threatened. It was a tremendous threat of evil. I mean, it was a -- a very personal threat of evil.

KROFT: My understanding is that you went out with this protector of yours who swore that you were his adopted godson.

SOROS: Yes. Yes.

KROFT: Went out, in fact, and helped in the confiscation of property from the Jews.

SOROS: Yes. That's right. Yes.

Kroft: I mean, that's -- that sounds like an experience that would send lots of people to the psychiatric couch for many, many years. Was it difficult?

Soros: Not, not at all. Not at all. Maybe as a child you don't ... you don't see the connection. But it was -- it created no -- no problem at all.

Kroft: No feeling of guilt?

Soros: No.

Kroft: For example, that, 'I'm Jewish, and here I am, watching these people go. I could just as easily be these, I should be there.' None of that?

Soros: Well, of course, ... I could be on the other side or I could be the one from whom the thing is being taken away. But there was no sense that I shouldn't be there, because that was -- well, actually, in a funny way, it's just like in the markets -- that is I weren't there -- of course, I wasn't doing it, but somebody else would - would -- would be taking it away anyhow. And it was the -- whether I was there or not, I was only a spectator, the property was being taken away. So the -- I had no role in taking away that property. So I had no sense of guilt.

As they say, context is everything.

Soros had ‘no feeling of guilt' because the property was going to be taken whether he was standing by watching, pretending to be the Christian Godson of an employee of Hungary's Ministry of Agriculture, or whether he was among the Jews apprehended by the Nazis.

He did not, himself, take any property, nor did he condone it. He was an adolescent who watched it happen; who was powerless in the face of certain death; who could have done nothing to stop what he witnessed.

The remainder of Levant's article plays out in the same fashion; inaccurate claims, misattributed quotes, baseless allegations.

Borrowing again from the Right Wing blogosphere, Levant claims "(Soros) called the world's financial crisis ‘the culmination of my life's work'."

Had Levant bothered to locate the original source of this claim, he'd have learned the entire article has since been pulled, and replaced with a statement acknowledging that Soros "in fact made no such comment."

The article reaches an ultimate low, however, when Levant invokes Soros' dead mother, stating "he is a man who boasted he offered to help his mother commit suicide. Apparently he didn't see enough death in Hungary."

This repulsive attack reveals far more about Levant than it does Soros; Especially given that, in full context, Soros in no way ‘boasts' about offering to help his mother end her life.

In 1994 at the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, Soros reflected on the experience of dying and bereavement in America while endorsing the Oregon Death With Dignity Act.

In his address, Soros explained how he "chose the problem of dying" as an area promote a better understanding "because of some very personal experiences in connection with the death of my parents, both of whom I was very devoted to and loved dearly."

"My father died at home in 1963. He was terminally ill. Although he agreed to an operation, he didn't particularly want to survive it because he was afraid that the combination of the illness and the operation would invade and destroy his autonomy as a human being. Unfortunately, that in fact is what happened. After the operation he had very little time left. I'm afraid I kind of wrote him off at that point. I was there when he died, yet I let him die alone. I could see him, but I wasn't at his bedside. The day after he died I went into the office. I didn't talk about my fathers death. So I kind of denied his dying, I certainly didn't participate in it. Afterwards, I read Kubler-Ross and learned that I might have maintained contact with him if I tried. Had I read Kubler-Ross earlier I would have probably held his hand, because I did love him. I just didn't know that it might make a difference. I forgave myself because I did not know any better

My mothers death was more recent. She had joined the Hemlock Society and had at hand a means of doing away with herself. I asked her if she needed my help; I offered it, although I wasn't particularly keen to do it. But I would have helped her because I felt that I owed it to her. At the point of decision, however, she did not want to take her own life, and I'm glad she didn't. Her decision gave the family a chance to rally around and be there as she prepared to die. And this time we did maintain good contact right to the end."

Hooray for context.

Before ending this piece of fiction disguised as an article, Levant labels Soros as a "sociopath" who "has turned his attention to Canada" using "one of his front groups, called Avaaz" to petition the CRTC to reject "Sun Media's license for a TV news channel."

"The petition is a fraud!" Levant rages. "And the whole campaign is run out of New York."

Cue the scary music for Levant's grand finale:

"Do you think Soros should determine what you can watch on TV? Do you think that decision should be made in New York? Is our freedom of speech just another trinket for him to buy and sell? Hasn't Soros silenced enough voices in his life?"

Really, Ezra? "Hasn't Soros silenced enough voices in his life?" Classy.

But I digress.

As stated earlier, Avaaz is a global operation. Launched in 2007 with the intent to "organize citizens everywhere to help close the gap between the world we have and the world most people want," Avaaz "has grown to 5.5 million members from every country on earth, becoming the largest global web movement in history."

Being a global operation, Canadians are able to launch petitions for Canadian interests; Decisions "made in New York?" Not at all.

So where exactly does Soros factor into this debate?

He doesn't.

Despite the repeated assertions of the contrary, Avaaz is not a "front group" for Soros, and by all accounts (excluding the unproven claims saturating conservative websites), Soros is, in no way, involved with this organization.

But why let facts get in the way of a good story, eh Levant?

After all, it helps draw attention away from reports of last year's New York lunch date between Prime Minister Harper, Teneycke (driving force behind Sun TV News, who was still Harper's director of communications at the time), News Corp. (parent company of Fox News) chairman Rupert Murdoch, and Fox News president Roger Ailes.

Though they're (now) claiming not to be a Canadian version of Fox News, the ‘journalism' exhibited future Sun TV News host Ezra Levant provides a clear example of what Canadians can expect from Teneycke's tabloid news organization, post ideological purge.

"Fair and Balanced." "We Report, You Decide." "Hard News, Straight Talk."

They distort, you comply.

--

The CRTC wants to hear from the public regarding Sun TV News' application. Make your voice in a single click!

You can also weigh in by signing the Avaaz.org petition.

--

Two HUGE updates!

First, Kory Teneycke has resigned from Sun Media (QMI) as an RCMP investigation into the spamming of the Avaaz.org petition edges closer to him. (Replacing Teneycke is former Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney's spokesman, Luc Lavoie -- so it's one Tory insider for another.)

**Note: As of January 2011, Teneycke is back in the saddle at Sun Media (QMI) **

Second, George Soros is threatening to sue Sun Media (QMI) - which includes Levant.

HERE is a snippet of Levant's twitter attacks on Soros, and HERE is a snippet of Levant's attacks on me following the publication of this article.

--

Update - Success! - Saturday September 18, 1:00 am

Sun Media (QMI) and Levant issue a retraction and apology for Levant's column:

On September 5, 2010, a column by Ezra Levant contained false statements about George Soros and his conduct as a young teenager in Nazi-occupied Hungary.

Upon receiving a letter of complaint from Mr. Soros's legal counsel on September 13, 2010, Sun Media Corporation always intended to publish a retraction and apology for this column. Despite constant efforts on both sides, Sun Media and Mr. Soros's counsel were unable to reach agreement on the content of a retraction.

The management of Sun Media wishes to state that there is no basis for the statements in the column and they should not have been made.

Sun Media, this newspaper and Ezra Levant retract the statements made in the column and unreservedly apologize to Mr. Soros for the distress and harm this column may have caused to him.

 

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Comments

Check the updates in my article! Sun Media (QMI) and Levant have issued an apology & retraction as Soros threatens to sue!

Only in the throws of relative destitution can so many Teneyckes exist - surely an epidemic of weasliness in the vicinity of Ottawa. I know both of you (Alan and Alheli) are correct in that we are far from eradicating the pestilance - but I have to take pleasure in these small victories and the fact that people like Ricken and organizations like Avaaz can disturb our Canadian slumber every now and then so that we cannot feign shock and horror when we wake up one day assaulted by a crazed lunatic of the ilk of Glenn Beck force feeding ignorance to the populace. It is on Harper's wishlist to have such a propaganda machine - but we (thankfully enough) don't have an imbecilic population large enough to support such lunacy by virtue of true capitalism alone. Ironic that Harper is attempting to abuse the foundations of our social democracy to push through his fringe neo-con agenda. Unfortunately, neo-cons don't get irony.

Avicenna, Yes, today has been quite the day! I hope Avaaz keeps pressing ahead with the RCMP investigation, as we all know the trail will lead back to Teneycke.

Alan smithee, you are correct; this is not a dead subject. Though Teneycke resigned, taking his place is Luc Lavoie, former spokesman for Brian Mulroney. They are simply substituting one Teneycke for another.

Sadly,Teneckye has downplayed the petition and has charged that the majority of the signatures came from Americans and in his little pea sized brain blames the petition on foreigners.

Anyway,something is up his (and his masters) sleeves.

This is not a dead subject.

Glorious update! Avaaz's first round against Sun TV and Kory T is a victory! Kory just resigned from Sun TV due to Avaaz's petition that had close to 100000 signatures from Canadians unhappy with this backroom shinanigans - CBC has been following the story and Ricken Patel (co-founder of Avaaz) shall be making another appearance on CBC and CTV. Nice to see results when people refuse to be apathetic.

Thank you, Catchfire!

Well, we babbler moderators don't normally sojourn into blog posts, but we won't be having any holocaust deniers polluting this site with their posts. So our friend lo_sciacallo has had his short rabble career cut tragically shorter. He's banned.

And excellent article, Alheli. Superb stuff.

lo_sciacallo, 

Though everybody is entitled to his/her own personal views, I find your comments (conspiracy theories) regarding the holocaust, and jewish people, reprehensible.

Your allegations regarding the gas chambers are nothing more than 'tinfoil hat' propaganda, and are an insult to all who survived the horrors of the Nazi regime.

Your comments have nothing to do with my article, and am not entire certain you even read it.

Your profile says you've been a member (able to leave comments) for just over 2 hours. That raises my suspicions about the true agenda behind your comments.

 

It's amazing how this one event in history is still talked about every single day. Talk about getting mileage from the "Hollowcaust". Yes, I said Hollow-caust. Even though the number of "gassed" Jews has been officially lowered to 1.1 million (there's even a sign at Auschwitz saying the new 1.1 M number, as well as a sign saying the building used for gassings was NEVER used as a gas-chamber since the brickwork was tested and shows NO traces of cyanide gas), now that 6 million has proven mathematically impossible, they are promoting the 6 Million number EVERY DAY STILL.

And, they still NEVER mention the other 12 Million Non-Jews who were killed in the very same camps and in the very same ways. That's called getting good mileage from a past event - 70 years in the past and it's still daily news.

Thank you avicenna and BGC!

And Brodi31k, I'm not sure what you are referring to...It seems you didn't bother reading the article.

Brodi31K

You've missed the point of the entire article!  It's about context! 

If you continue reading the unedited version of the 60 minute interview transcript Soros explains in further detail why he feels no guilt.  Due to the fact that he was a child and would face certain death if he did anything to stop the confiscation, and  he didn't personaly take any items as he was a spectator.  The act would have occured weather or not he was there, so how would he be personally responsible?

I also notice that you've only been a rabble member for 5 days, the very day this article was published, and here you are "trying" to discredit this article. 

You have not commented on any other article 

And you have no personal details on your profile!

Very interesting

Folks let's start calling out these ultra conservatives, whom try to create the illusion of argument and other valid points of view, but instead obscure the argument with overly simplistic irrelivant details and/or distort the truth.

Thanks for the spot-on article, Alhelhi. If it weren't for Avaaz and Ricken Patel (a Canadian through and through) - Harper would have been able to go on manipulating the system without any one being the wiser - as he has been doing all along. Major Canadian media outlets (CBC, I'm looking at you) have either had their hands tied or have been negligent in reporting things as they are. Kory's weasle-like character was quite perceptible when he and Ricken appeared on Power and Politics. It is not Harper's conservatism that is unstomachable - it is his hypocrisy and desire to make the agenda of his government as untransparent as possible. Sun Media now have it in for Avaaz and Ricken for initiating this public scrutiny and they will likely be bashing their character (as Ezra has done with Soros) in an attempt to invalidate their petition of Canadians who don't want to subsidize the intolerant faux news ala Fox. All those who rather not be exposed to such mind-numbing hot air should think about supporting Avaaz fight back.

Thank you Mike!

And yes Cathryn...perhaps Ezra will tie human rights into some grand Bolsheviks plot! ;)

Hi there,

Just wanted to share the fact that Soros has today donated $100 million to Human Rights Watch. I didn't see that anywhere on this page. It's with the proviso that HRW raises $100 million also.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-11218868

Oh dear, Levant won't like it at all, and he doesn't even have a TV channel yet to screech about it. He'll have to use twitter.

Just found this article by googling Ezra Levant + George Soros; what a breath of fresh air! I was made (painfully) aware of Ezra Levant through his fiasco at Ottawa U with Anne Coulter, which of course was characterized by blatant lies and media manipulation, but even that episode didn't prepare me for the above article. Good grief, what a wack-job! I was already following the Sun TV story closely, and commenting about it on cbc and the globe sites, but had yet to learn of Ezra's involvement in the project. I will now redouble my efforts to counter the Teneycke/Harper line on this story!

Anyway, I look forward to exploring this site, and reading more Alheli Picazo... thanks for the great article!  

I don't quite understand this part of your post:

"The assertion that Soros confiscated property of other Jews -- including the imaginary interview Levant creates by cropping and rearranging portions of the actual 60 Minutes Soros interview -- was debunked years ago"

Is followed by this excerpt from said interview:

"KROFT: Went out, in fact, and helped in the confiscation of property from the Jews.

SOROS: Yes. That's right. Yes."

.....

So which is it? Was it debunked or is that exactly what your source material says? 


Hi Milo204! Might just be a glitch. Link works for me. Try again!

petition doesn't work!!  love to sign it but goes to an error page

Sadly,I couldn't stomach reading this whole column.

There was a time when conservatives (even though I never and never will support them) were coherent and relevent.

In the last 30 years,conservatism has turned into an ugly extremist cancer void of any tolerance,truth or sanity.

It's official--they're nuts and Canadians of all stripes,including old school progressive conservatives will dread the day when Canada is inflicted with a majority lunatic fringe government that will undoubtedly merge with the new Tea Bagger Republican Party which will surely reclaim power in 2012.

I know people are uncomfortable with the 'F' word but that's where North America is headed.

This isn't a joke,there is a growing movement spawned from propagandist media in the U.S. which is coming our way that is a REAL bonafide threat to our culture,our traditions and our fragile democracy.

And just like Europe in the 1930's,the masses will let it all happen and only wake up when it's too late.

I signed the petition but petitions are not enough,unfortunately.

It may be time for civil disobedience...Maybe even direct action.

That's not being radical...That's being realistic.

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